With the 2021 offseason fast approaching, which NFL free agents are the names to watch out for over the coming months? Where will the likes of Dak Prescott, Aaron Jones, Allen Robinson, and other top free agents land ahead of the 2021 NFL season?
Top free agent quarterbacks in 2021
1) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
2) Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
3) Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
4) Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys
5) Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
6) Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts
7) Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers
8) Cam Newton, New England Patriots
Dak Prescott headlines a somewhat underwhelming group of free agent quarterbacks
The quarterback position in free agency breaks down into some clear tiers. Dak Prescott sits alone atop the tree as the potential franchise QB of the group. However, given his talent level, it seems unlikely that the Cowboys will even let him hit free agency in 2021.
The Cowboys could decide to pay around $37 million with Prescott on the franchise tag, or they could look to extend him. However, after coming off a serious injury, will the Cowboys be willing to make Prescott one of the top five highest-paid QBs with a big extension?
After Prescott, Trubisky and Winston make up the next tier. Both have the potential to be starters in the league but will require coaching up to achieve their potential. Behind those are five players who could all serve as valuable veteran backups.
Top NFL free agent wide receivers in 2021
1) Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears
2) Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3) JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
4) Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
5) Will Fuller, Houston Texans
6) Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions
7) A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
8) T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
9) Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs
10) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Allen Robinson headlines an intriguing group of wide receivers
After playing in Jacksonville and Chicago during his career, Allen Robinson’s destination this offseason is intriguing. Will he be looking to cash in, or will he be willing to take a cheaper deal to join a team that should challenge in 2021? Robinson is the most proven of the available options, but there are some potentially fascinating names behind him.
Godwin, Smith-Schuster, and Golladay are all extremely talented, but there are also plenty of question marks. All three could be franchise leading receivers in the next five years, but they could also end up looking like bad deals in the next 24 months. Fuller falls into the same category, but his question marks are both injury and character-related. His active suspension for testing positive for a banned substance is going to reduce the amount he can likely command in free agency.
Green, Hilton, Watkins, and Fitzgerald are all solid veteran options. However, none of them can be relied upon to be a dominant force as a receiving option at this point in their careers. Marvin Jones sits in the middle of the group at the position. He offers utility as a valuable number two receiver, but he does not offer the potential number one upside of the players above him.
Top running backs that will be on the market next year
1) Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
2) Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals
3) Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
4) Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
5) Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6) Le’Veon Bell, Kansas City Chiefs
7) Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
8) James White, New England Patriots
9) Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers
10) Mike Davis, Carolina Panthers
Behind Aaron Jones, there are a lot of questions about the running back position in the 2021 NFL free-agent class
The running back position is another intriguing group. Aaron Jones is the clear standout, but recent struggles from highly-paid players at the position could hamper his efforts to get a big payday. Jones’ ability to make plays in the run and passing should make him a valuable commodity, but the running back market is volatile.
Drake and Carson are both players with high ceilings. However, the question marks surrounding both in terms of production and durability prevent either from being a top-tier free agent option at the position. Lindsay presents an intriguing mix of upside but uncertainty. Lindsay has flashed potential but is unlikely to command a high price. He is also set to be a restricted free agent in 2021, limiting his options significantly.
The group of Gurley, Bell, and Fournette is a mix of talented backs who are likely to have to take one-year “prove-it” deals. The most likely to command a multi-year deal is Fournette, who has had a solid end to his season in Tampa Bay. Behind them, White, Coleman, and Davis can all play roles in an offense. However, none of them will be commanding a position as a number one back for any team this offseason.
Top available free agent tight ends in 2021
1) Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
2) Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans
3) Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams
4) Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5) Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints
6) Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts
The free agent TE landscape has some intriguing pieces
Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith headline this group from a talent standpoint. Henry is the most likely to command a deal that could land him amongst the highest-paid tight ends. Smith is likely to have to take a relatively short term deal to prove he can be a consistent playmaker outside of Tennessee’s run-first offense.
Everett is likely a number two option at this stage but has the talent to elevate to a number one tight end on a new team. He may be a player willing to gamble on a short-term deal to prove he can command a higher price in a year or two. The veterans in Rob Gronkowski and Cook could provide a team with a reliable option, but both are likely being beyond able to command a top-tier deal.
Top available free agent offensive line players in 2021
1) Brandon Scherff, Washington Football Team
2) Joe Thuney, New England Patriots
3) Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers
4) Corey Linsley, Green Bay Packers
5) Alex Mack, Atlanta Falcons
6) Russell Okung, Carolina Panthers
7) Cameron Fleming, New York Giants
8) Alejandro Villanueva, Pittsburgh Steelers
9) Lane Taylor, Green Bay Packers
10) Cameron Erving, Dallas Cowboys
The offensive line free agent group is extremely top-heavy in the 2021 NFL offseason
The offensive line group contains some fascinating names. Brandon Scherff, Trent Williams, and Corey Linsley are all players that it would be somewhat of a shock to see them reach the open market. Joe Thuney should hit the open market after being slapped with the franchise tag last season. Alex Mack provides a good veteran presence on the interior of the offensive line. However, his best days are now firmly in the rearview mirror.
Best defensive players available
1) Von Miller, Denver Broncos
2) Leonard Williams, New York Giants
3) Melvin Ingram, Los Angeles Chargers
4) Matt Judon, Baltimore Ravens
5) Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh Steelers
6) Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7) Jadeveon Clowney, Tennessee Titans
8) Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos
9) J.J Watt, Free Agent
10) Yannick Ngakoue, Baltimore Ravens
11) Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
12) A.J. Bouye, Free Agent
A lot of talented defensive options could be available in the 2021 NFL free agent class
If Denver does not exercise their option on Von Miller, he headlines this group by a clear margin when it comes to impact players. However, behind him, there are a number of talented players that could be valuable signings. The defensive line and pass-rush groups are extremely talented, with options for all different play styles available.
In terms of the secondary, A.J. Bouye and Patrick Peterson headline a group that lacks an abundance of star power. Both could command good contract numbers, although Peterson’s age may prevent him from seeing another long-term deal.
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